by: Rommel F. Lopez

Screenshot of the Presidential Communications Operations Office and Radio Television Malacañang’s Facebook Pages showing the now deleted anti-ABS-CBN post of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflicts


The official Facebook page of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and its attached agencies shared and later deleted a Facebook post from the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) spreading what looks like a disinformation campaign against broadcasting giant ABS-CBN.

The NTF-ELCAC’s FB post lists seven points in Filipino why the network was closed. The points raised were similar to those given by the president of the Federation of International Cable TV Associates of the Philippines (FICTAP) Estrellita Juliano Tamano during a Senate hearing and a recent live interview with veteran broadcast journalist Jessica Soho over ABS-CBN’s rival network GMA 7’s flagship newscast, 24 Oras. That interview is being used in social media by Duterte supporters and anti-ABS-CBN trolls to justify the closure of the network.

The NTF-ELCAC alleged that the National Telecommunications Commission’s (NTC) cease-and-desist order against ABS-CBN was due to the network’s illegal pay-per-view charges on its digital TV decoder, ABS-CBN TV Plus, and broadcast operations. These were already debunked during the same Senate hearing by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and the NTC itself. ABS-CBN also released video debunking the FICTAP charges.

The NTF-ELCAC posts were shared by the PCOO and its attached agencies’ FB accounts like Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM) and the Philippine Information Agency’s regional offices.

The PCOO and its attached agencies later deleted the shared post.

The NTF-ELCAC also deleted the post which was earlier pinned on top of its Facebook Page.

Before getting deleted, the NTF-ELCAC post generated 1.8k reactions and 3.3k shares.

Anti-insurgency task force on ABS-CBN franchise

ABS-CBN’s Malacañang reporter, Pia Gutierrez, tagged Andanar in a tweet, asking him why the PCOO social media pages were “being used to spread fake news on the ABS-CBN franchise issue?” while providing screenshots of the posts.

She also wonders why the task force has an opinion on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal issue.

Andanar did not respond to her tweets.

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict was created in December 4, 2018 thru Executive Order 70 by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The task force, which is directly under the Office of the President, was created to to provide a whole-of-nation approach-driven national peace framework to end the communist insurgency. It is under the Office of the President with Duterte himself chairing the task force and Sec. Hermogenes Esperon, the National Security Adviser, as the vice chair.



Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque quickly disowned the post saying in a released statement that they “were not their official statement on the matter.”

“We wish to clarify that the above posts did not come from the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson and the NTF Stratcomms which is headed by the OPS. Hence, not the official statement of our Office,” it said.

Andanar for his part said that the post did not go through his office’s “usual vetting process”.

“We would like to state that the resharing by the PCOO Facebook Page of a posted content by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict Facebook Page regarding the legal situation of ABS-CBN Corporation’s broadcast license was done without the usual vetting process of our office,” he said in a statement.

“That being said, the posted content is not in any way an official statement or an opinion of the PCOO. The issue regarding ABS-CBN Corporation’s network franchise remains within the purview of Congress,” he added.

Andanar, a former newsreader, however, did not provide any detail if his office will investigate the matter.

Ironically, during the May 5 Laging Handa virtual briefing aired live over government-owned TV station PTV-4, PCOO Assistant Secretary Ramon Cualoping III warned the public about how fake news “mutates” during the pandemic considering that the PCOO shared the fake news of NTF-ELCAC.


Andanar should resign – UP journ prof.

Reacting to Andanar’s statement, University of the Philippines (UP) journalism professor Danilo Arao said this latest gaffe from the PCOO shows Andanar “does not understand public information, crisis communication and journalism.”

“He disavows without acknowledging inaccuracy of NTF content. He does not explain why the resharing happened. He does not also answer why NTF is concerned with ABS-CBN issue. Andanar only knows buck-passing,” he said in an interview with

Asked about why the NTF-ELCAC has an interest in the ABS-CBN broadcasting franchise renewal issue, Arao said the NTF-ELCAC is “quite notorious for red-baiting” and that the post might have been intended to “create another false narrative that the campaign for press freedom is being led by communist fronts, or that cadres are part of the ABS-CBN organization.”

“NTF’s red-baiting is entrenched into the government’s “fake news” machinery,” he added.

“In a way, it can be deliberate either to divert people’s attention or to lead them to action based on wrong information. This explains why PCOO uses dubious global sources of information to prove public support for Duterte amid the lockdown. We know for example that conducting scientific surveys are close to impossible but they insist that there were favorable findings,” referring to the Gallup International (not related to the famed survey firm Gallup) survey whose results are not available site and the Tangere app survey which is he describes as “not scientific.”  Both survey results give very high ratings to the Duterte Administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Asked if this seemingly organized and concerted attacks against the press needs a more united stance from members of the media, Arao said journalists who “choose to remain silent are doing a disservice to the profession.”

Silence during times of darkness is complicity to tyranny. It is a journalist’s ethical obligation to fight for press freedom for the simple reason that he or she cannot function without it.